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Commons Chamber

Volume 639: debated on Wednesday 3 May 1961

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House Of Commons

Wednesday, 3rd May, 1961

The House met at half-past Two o'clock


[Mr. SPEAKER in the Chair]

Oral Answers To Questions

Tents (Transport To Italy)


asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will state the purposes of his Department in transporting four white tents to Italy; and what is the estimated cost of the hire and transportation.

A marquee, buffet tent and two small service tents have been hired and transported to Rome for a reception to be given in the garden of Her Majesty's Legation to the Holy See, on 5th May, on the occasion of the visit of Her Majesty the Queen.

The contract cost of hire and transport is £850.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that although this sum is relatively small, it has offended many people in the country? [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Indeed, it has. Can he tell us what is the difference between using a white tent transported from this country and using a coloured tent made in Italy? When will this kind of extravagant nonsense stop?

I would not accept for a moment that this expenditure has offended people in this country. I believe that if Her Majesty the Queen is willing to undertake these duties, it is our duty to see that she is properly provided for. We endeavoured to acquire a marquee in Rome, but none was available and it was for that reason that this one was sent out.

Can my hon. Friend assure the House that this was in fact the cheapest means of providing adequate facilities for this reception?

Yes, I can give that assurance. Inquiries such as we made showed that any alternative which we were able to obtain in Rome would have cost at least £1,200 and might have cost more, so that this was the cheapest form available.

Tunisia (United Kingdom Information Services)


asked the Lord Privy Seal what facilities are provided by his Department for the dissemination in Tunisia of information about Great Britain.

Since the reply is long, I will with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Is my hon. Friend aware that there is a good deal of latent good will towards the United Kingdom in Tunis and that in particular there is a demand for facilities to learn English, and that the local personnel are doing an excellent job representing the British point of view, although with not very adequate facilities? Will my hon. Friend be good enough to consult his right hon. Friend to see whether some improvement can be made in these facilities, which would seem to be very worth while?

I would not dissent from what my hon. Friend has said about the need and the benefit which might result from an extension of our services, but I ask him to study the reply, when he will see that much is already covered. However, we are giving further consideration to what assistance and help we can give in this matter.

Following is the reply:

Her Majesty's Embassy in Tunis has an Information Section staffed by a Foreign Service Information Officer and five locally-engaged assistants. The Embassy keep in close touch with the Tunisian Press and radio and good use is made of Press material originating from the United Kingdom. Radio Tunis also uses Central Office of Information tape recordings supplied through the Information Section of the Embassy.
The Embassy maintains a Library of approximately three thousand books. British newspapers and periodicals are available in the Embassy Information Centre and publications supplied by the Regional Information Office, attached to the Embassy in Beirut, are distributed.
The Embassy Information Section also maintains a library of Central Office of Information and British Council films which are available on loan. The Central Office of Information supplies newsreel material on events of special interest for incorporation in the Tunisian Government's official newsreels.
The publication of "Huna London", publicising British Broadcasting Corporation radio transmissions to Tunis and North Africa is distributed on behalf of the British Broadcasting Corporation, whose Arabic Service is of course highly audible in Tunisia.

Geneva Conference On Nuclear Tests


asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will make a further statement on the negotiations for a ban on nuclear explosions.


asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will make a statement about the latest developments in the Geneva nuclear tests talks.


asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he will make a further statement on the progress achieved at the Geneva Conference on the cessation of nuclar tests.

On 18th April the United States and United Kingdom delegations jointly tabled in the Conference a complete draft treaty which they would be prepared to sign immediately. This text embodied the proposals put forward by the Western delegations on 21st March, as well as treaty language already agreed with the Russians. It was, however, made clear to the Russians that we were prepared to discuss this draft patiently and in detail.

I am sorry to say that we are still waiting for constructive Soviet replies to the proposals we put forward on 21st March.

Is the Under-Secretary aware that the Opposition welcome the many improvements in the Western proposals which were submitted by the Western delegations and regret the fact that the Soviet Government have so far failed even, I think, to refer to them? Will the hon. Gentleman say to what extent the Western delegations have considered Mr. Khrushchev's proposal for introducing a triple veto into all organs of inspection and control? Does he not agree that to introduce a veto into the organs of inspection in that way would be a very retrograde step?

Yes, I entirely agree with the hon. Member about that. This proposal for a triumvirate in the administration would be very damaging and we have made it clear to the Russians that we could not possibly accept such a proposal.

Would the hon. Gentleman consider publishing a White Paper containing the full text of the proposed draft treaty and other relevant information which would enable the public to have a proper appreciation of what is taking place at the Conference?

I should like to think about that and to consult my right hon. Friend. There might be some merit in it, for this is a very complicated and difficult matter for the public to follow.

Could not the British spokesman bridge the alarming gulf between America and Russia by proposing that within the suggested tripartite control commission there should be a two-thirds majority to decide, as that would help to give the neutral bloc great influence?

I do not know that I can follow the hon. Member in that. I would not say that the British in this case could seek to bridge the gap between the Americans and Russians, because we have worked very closely with the Americans and any proposals which have been put forward by us or the Americans have been joint proposals. We are working very closely with the Americans in this sphere.

Does not my hon. Friend agree that anti-nuclear demonstrations, in so far as they are an attempt to misrepresent public opinion here, are likely to hinder rather than help these neogtiations?

Yes, I entirely agree with my hon. Friend that there is a definite danger that there will be misunderstanding if too much importance is attached to what is a fringe reaction of people in this country and which certainly does not represent the view of the great mass of British people.

Can my hon. Friend confirm that there have now been more than 300 meetings of the nuclear test conference, during which time the United Kingdom delegate has done everything to obtain agreement while a final solution has always been thwarted by Russian intransigence?

Yes, there has been a large number of these meetings and we are very disappointed that we have not made more progress, especially in the last few weeks when real efforts have been made by the Western side. We still hope that the Russians will come forward with some positive reactions to these proposals, which have been a genuine attempt to bring this matter to a conclusion, which is wanted by all people in this country.

Will the hon. Gentleman seriously consider the suggestion of my hon. Friend the Member for Salford, East (Mr. Frank Allaun) for a two-thirds majority in the control commission? Will he recognise that this is a principle which would be of very useful general application in the whole field of disarmament and that the Russians have agreed to the idea of a two-thirds majority in the control commission for general disarmament, so that this is something which might prove acceptable to them and a way of finding a solution in terms of political realities in the world as it is today?

The question of the constitution of the control commission has been investigated very thoroughly. We have made proposals which we think should lead to a solution and the proposals which we have put forward go quite as far as one could hope to do to meet the Russian point of view.

Para-Military Forces (Training And Use)


asked the Lord Privy Seal what consultations have taken place in the Councils of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, South-East Asia Treaty Organisation, and Central Treaty Organisation on the training and operational use of para-military forces to assist anti-Communist forces operating within the territories covered by these alliances.

The proceedings of the three Councils in all matters are confidential.

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that President Kennedy's idea of combating alleged Communism from China to Peru and from Cuba to South Vietnam by paramilitary forces is in conflict with the United Nations Charter and is highly dangerous to world peace? Will he give an undertaking to oppose it with all the means at the disposal of Her Majesty's Government in all these alliances, even to the extent of pointing out that, if the safety of this country is threatened by such proposals, we cannot remain a member of the alliances if they are persisted in?

That misrepresentation of President Kennedy's views has no relevance to this Question.



asked the Lord Privy Seal what discussions Her Majesty's Government have had with the United States Government regarding British policy in the United Nations in the event of a further invasion of Cuba.


asked the Lord Privy Seal what negotiations have taken place with the United States Government regarding a commitment for joint action on the part of the United Kingdom and the United States of America in the event of war between the United States of America and Cuba.

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether it is not the case that while the American Government have denied giving direct military aid to the abortive invasion, it is now clear that they gave very widespread indirect aid? Has not President Kennedy made clear that this is likely to be repeated, and, just as America restrained us when we attacked Suez—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."]—would not it be a good thing—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]—would not it be useful to peace if we restrained America?

This matter was discussed in the United Nations and a resolution was passed at the United Nations in which we supported the matter being referred to the O.A.S. and that is where the matter should rest.

Will the Minister give a definite assurance that we shall not join in any war which may be caused by American intervention in Cuba?

Our obligations are perfectly cleanly laid down in the treaties which we have with our allies and in the United Nations Charter.

Has my right hon. Friend noted that Castro has said that as a Socialist he will do away with all official opposition?

I am sure that the Lord Privy Seal would not wish to mislead the House. Is not he aware that the resolution which was passed at the United Nations did not in fact transfer the problem of Cuba to the Organisation of American States, this clause in the Argentine Resolution having failed to receive the requisite majority assent? Would he agree that hostilities in the Western Hemisphere, as in the Eastern Hemisphere, are properly a matter for the United Nations as a whole?

They have indeed been discussed by the United Nations as a whole and dealt with by them.


asked the Lord Privy Seal what information he has received in the last few days from his representative at the United Nations about events in and around Cuba.

Are the British Government any better informed on the events in Cuba than was Mr. Dulles? Will the British Government tell America that they are opposed to any repeat performance or any moves by the American Navy either to invade or to blockade Cuba? May we have that assurance?

The Question asked whether we had received any more information from the United Nations. There has been no further debate about it since the resolution was passed, and we have received no information in addition to that.

Will the Lord Privy Seal confirm that in fact the attempt to refer this matter to the Organisation of American States was defeated? Will he, further, give an assurance that we shall not support any attempt to by-pass the United Nations by referring the matter to the Organisation of American States if the State concerned desires it to be heard by the United Nations?

Yes, I accept the point which the right hon. Gentleman has made about the actual clause and the amendment to the resolution. The position of the regional organisations is clearly laid down in the Charter, in Articles 52, 53, and 54. It remains the ultimate responsibility of the United Nations. If the United Nations likes to refer it to the regional organisations, as it has on occasions done in the past, it is entitled to do so.

The Lord Privy Seal seems to be deliberately confusing counsel on this issue. Will not he confirm, as he was asked to do by my right hon. Friend, that in fact the United Nations Assembly did not pass this to the Organisation of American States, and therefore the latter part of his answer is completely incorrect and unfounded?

I accepted the first part of the supplementary question of the right hon. Member for Derby, South (Mr. P. Noel-Baker). He asked in the second part for an assurance that we would not refer the matter to the Organisation of American States or any regional organisation if the country concerned did not wish it. I pointed out that the opportunity for the United Nations to do that if they wished by a majority vote is laid down in Articles 52, 53 and 54 of the Charter.

Will the Lord Privy Seal confirm that it was a great disaster when the question of Guatemala was referred to the O.A.S. in 1954, and will he look at what his right hon. and learned Friend the present Chancellor of the Exchequer said about that event at the time?

I have read what my right hon. and learned Friend said on that occasion. It has, of course, to a certain extent been misrepresented, and I cannot entirely accept the views of the right hon. Gentleman which were expressed in the first part of his supplementary question.

Israel (Eichmann Trial)


asked the Lord Privy Seal whether Her Majesty's Government received an invitation from the Israeli Government to send an official observer to the Eichmann trial; and what reply was sent.

All diplomatic missions in Israel were informed some time ago that they should apply to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs if they wished a permanent seat at the trial to be reserved for them. We were later told informally that seats at the trial could be provided for legal observers. We decided on practical grounds, in view of the very full Press coverage which the trial would receive, not to take up either offer.

In view of the overwhelming historical importance of this trial, in view of the contribution which Britain made to the ending of the tragic era that this trial represents, and in view of its importance to Israel and to humanity at large, would not the Minister agree that it would have been more sensible for the British Government to have followed the example of nearly every other Government in the world and accepted this invitation?

No. I do not think that mere attendance at the trial has any implication. Our position in relation to this matter is abundantly clear. I do not think that merely attending the trial would have made any difference.



asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will make a statement on recent events in the Congo; how many British officers, serving with the United Nations forces, have been killed or injured; how many Britons are or have been serving with the irregular forces in Katanga and elsewhere; what official advice has been given to them; and what information he has on the detention of Mr. Tshombe.


asked the Lord Privy Seal what information he has received from the United Nations in Leopoldville concerning the death of two British officers serving with the Ghanaian contingent with the United Nations forces in the Congo; and what representations have been made to the Congolese authorities in Leopoldville.

24 and 25.

asked the Lord Privy Seal (1) what information he has received from the United Nations about the detention in Leopoldville of President Moisé Tshombe of Katanga;

(2) whether, in view of its effect on the security of British territories in Central Africa, he will make a statement about the situation in Katanga.

The most important recent events in the Congo have been the agreement on co-operation concluded in Leopoldville and New York between Mr. Kasavubu and United Nations authorities and the present Conference of Congolese leaders at Coquilhatville. Our information is that Mr. Tshombe is being detained at Coquilhatville by Congolese forces during the Conference. Our representative at the United Nations has been instructed to urge the United Nations authorities to use their good offices to secure Mr. Tshombe's release and return to the conference table. Meanwhile in Elisabethville and South Kasai Province the situation remains calm.

I regret to say that two British officers, Captain T. G. Ralph and Lieutenant A. P. G. Brown, serving with the Ghana contingent in the Kasai Province, are reported missing at Port Francqui. Full information about this incident has been sought from the United Nations authorities. May I add how much we regret the casualties which have occurred at Port Francqui to Ghanaian, and perhaps also Swedish, soldiers.

There were about 40 United Kingdom nationals in the armed forces of the Katanga, of whom 12 were detained by the United Nations at Kabalo and are in the course of being repatriated. As far as I know, no British subjects are serving in a similar capacity in other parts of the Congo. Consular officers in the Congo have been instructed to bring to the attention of those concerned the measures which I announced in answer to a Question by my hon. Friend the Member for Reigate (Sir J. Vaughan-Morgan) on 12th April.

Is the Lord Privy Seal aware that, although our views on the status of Mr. Tshombe may differ, nobody wants him to be subjected to any physical harm as a reprisal for the murder of Mr. Lumumba, but as Mr. Tshombe is, in a sense, what is described in this country as someone whom "the police would like to interview because he may be able to help them with their inquiries", would the right hon. Gentleman seek, if possible, to have him transferred to United Nations custody, so that he may be able to help with the inquiries that are presumably going on, or ought to be going on, into the murder of Mr. Lumumba?

In the United Nations we have supported the motion that there should be an inquiry into the death of Mr. Lumumba, and that is proceeding. We are anxious that Mr. Tshombe should be able to take part in this conference to produce reconciliation between the leaders of the Congo.

Has the right hon. Gentleman seen reports suggesting that the two British officers who were, at least, arrested, may well have been shot while in captivity, and if that subsequently proves to be the case, will Her Majesty's Government make the strongest representations in what appears to be another example of cold-blooded murder?

I have seen those reports, and as we have not had confirmation of them, I have stated it very clearly in my Answer in that way.

In view of what The Times in its first leading article describes as the partisanship of certain U.N. officials, will Her Majesty's Government continue to press for the release of Mr. Tshombe and Mr. Kimba and their return to their own people, and not for their release into the hands of the United Nations as suggested by the hon. Member for Barking (Mr. Driberg)? Further, does not the concentration of U.N. forces on Kamina, in peaceful territory, instead of in North Kasai where there is disorder, constitute a threat to the independence and integrity of Katanga? Will the Government, therefore, cease stopping British subjects from helping the defence of this friendly, African nationalist community?

As to the release of Mr. Tshombe, I have very clearly described in my Answer what the representative of the United Nations is doing. Kamina is a main base suitable for forces, and there is, after all, considerable disturbance in North Katanga owing to tribal warfare, but in any case the disposition of these forces is bound to be a matter for the U.N. commander. As to the last part of my hon. Friend's supplementary question, we are carrying out our obligations under the United Nations resolution of 21st February.

Can the Lord Privy Seal say whether any of the 40 British nationals were recruited in this country?



asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he will make a statement on the negotiations for a cease-fire in Laos.


asked the Lord Privy Seal what assistance the United Kingdom and Russian Governments have given to the rival forces in Laos to enable them to negotiate a cease-fire.


asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will make a statement on the present situation in Laos.


asked the Lord Privy Seal what information he has received regarding the response to the call for a cease-fire in Laos.

Since I made my last statement, military representatives of the two sides in Laos managed to make contact in no-man's-land in the Vang Vieng sector on 1st May. It was expected in Vientiane today that there would be further meetings which may well have taken place by now but I have no confirmation that this is the case. No details are available but I understand that a de facto cease-fire is now operative on the front north of Vientiane and if the talks go well this should be extended shortly to other fronts. Both the Pathet Lao command and Captain Kong Lae have broadcast over their radios instructions to their forces to cease fire.

Her Majesty's Government have used their diplomatic resources to help to bring about these negotiations.

We have now received the report of the International Control Commission, with which we are entirely in agreement, and Her Majesty's Ambassador in Moscow has been instructed to discuss with the Soviet Co-Chairman the arrangements for the return of the Commission to Laos.

Has the Lord Privy Seal seen the report in The Times this morning to the effect that, following the arrangement of the cease-fire throughout the whole of Laos, political discussions are to take place between both sides—that is to say, the Government and Pathet Lao? Can we be told whether that is likely to delay the ratification of any cease-fire by the Control Commission?

While we must all be thankful that the cease-fire has now been arranged, might not the tension and danger of recent days have been obviated if the United Kingdom Government and Russia had offered their own services to facilitate a meeting, rather than issue an appeal for a cease-fire without making any concrete suggestions?

It was the view of the Soviet co-Chairman that the co-Chairmen should issue the appeal, and the actual arrangements for the cease-fire were bound to be a matter for the forces taking part. Naturally, we offered all our facilities where we could and used what influence we could to bring that about.

From our latest information, and from what the Lord Privy Seal has just said, it is the case, is it not, that Pathet Lao have laid down their arms and accepted the cease-fire? Is that also true of the Royalist forces? At the moment, it would seem not to be so. Did the right hon. Gentleman confute that statement?

What has happened, as we understand from a monitored broadcast, is that Pathet Lao has radioed to its forces, and Kong Lae to some of his, ordering the cease-fire—

That is why I have made this statement in rather careful terms, because we have not had direct information from the area that it has in fact happened yet. But General Phoumi has certainly shown extremely good faith in moving towards this cease-fire, proposing the place, and sending his troops forward under a flag of truce into no-man's-land, and I have no doubt at all that he will carry out the cease-fire.

Surely, such progress, slow as it may be, towards a cease-fire is the strongest argument against hasty unilateral action and intervention on either side in this affair. Can the right hon. Gentleman say to what extent the cease-fire agreement is intended to cover the supply of armaments to either side from foreign countries?

These talks are being carried on by representatives of the opposing forces and we have not yet had any information about the terms on which they have agreed, so I cannot tell the hon. Gentleman what the answer to the last part of his supplementary question is.

Surely Her Majesty's Government have reached some understanding with their Soviet co-Chairman as to whether a cease-fire should imply the cessation of external military aid to the two sides that were previously fighting—or is that not the case?

We have always urged that the greatest restraint should be shown in these supplies, and there is a greater possibility of doing that once an actual cease-fire has been secured.

Will the right hon. Gentleman go a step further and express the view of Her Majesty's Government that no foreign military aid should be given to either side in Laos following the arrangement for a cease-fire?

I would be very careful in remarking on this, because these are matters to be arranged between those taking part in the cease-fire agreement.


asked the Lord Privy Seal what representations Her Majesty's Government have made to the United States Government concerning the establishment of the military liaison group at a time when a cease-fire was being called in Laos.

Does not the right hon. Gentleman think that at a time when the most delicate negotiations were proceeding between this country and Russia about the situation in Laos the decision of the United States Government that its advisers in Laos should be put into uniform and re-formed as the United States assistance advisory group to the Royal Laotian Government and permitted to be present with the Government forces in advanced positions was a most unwise one which might have a serious effect on the negotiation of the cease-fire?

It was not a case of the United States sending a military mission to the area. What happened was that the instructors had been with the Royal Laotian Forces for some considerable time as a group of programme evaluation officers, and their description was changed to that of a military advisory aid group so that they might be put into uniform and moved forward with the troops which they were training. The decision to do this was taken before the co-Chairmen issued their request for a cease-fire.


asked the Lord Privy Seal what representations Her Majesty's Government have made to the Soviet Government concerning the continued supply of arms to the Pathet Lao.

Since it was first known that the Soviet airlift of arms to the Pathet Lao had begun, Her Majesty's Ambassador at Moscow has left the Soviet Government in no doubt as to our views about the danger of it.

We hope that once the cease-fire has been declared, all concerned will show great restraint in this matter. Control of these supplies is one of the matters to be handled at the conference.

Has the right hon. Gentleman read the Press reports over the week-end which continue to allege that such supplies are still going into Laos? Will he make it quite clear that this House would deplore tendentious reports which were wilfully calculated to sow distrust in an area where agreement would be so valuable? Can he state whether, when he received the assurances from the Soviet Union and when they issued an appeal for a cease-fire, they gave an assurance at the same time that they would stop the supply of arms?

I did not say in my reply that the Soviet Union had given any assurances. I said that we had made plain our view that it would be extremely dangerous if such assistance should be flown in.


asked the Lord Privy Seal what proposals he will put before the Geneva Conference to ensure international acceptance of the neutral status of Laos.

The aim of Her Majesty's Government is to establish a neutral, united and independent Laos, but it would be premature to put forward proposals to this end at this stage.

Will the right hon. Gentleman now give serious consideration to the proposal I put to him a couple of months ago that Laos, Cambodia, and South Vietnam should be withdrawn from the designated areas of the Manila Treaty? Does he recognise that the preservation of the right of military intervention by one of the military alliances would be totally incompatible with a neutrality status for Laos?

The means by which a neutral, united, and independent Laos can be achieved and security given to it must be a matter for the conference to settle.

Can the Lord Privy Seal say whether the International Commission will be able to control and prevent this supply of arms by either side to either side?

The instructions to the International Control Commission are to supervise and control the cease-fire.

We hope that the greatest restraint will be shown in the supply of arms. So far as the first stage is concerned, that is a matter for agreement between the parties now meeting to bring about a cease-fire. So far as the permanent arrangement is concerned, that comes under the terms of reference of the conference which will have to decide how the future status of Laos is to be secured.


asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he will give an assurance that, in the current discussions on Laos, the Government will oppose any form of military intervention in any circumstances.

Is not the Minister aware that a policy of military intervention in Laos could very well lead at the best to a Korean war and at the worst to a world war? This situation is now arising in Laos, and unless the Western Powers part company with these doctrines there is no hope whatever of any disarmament agreement or any move towards peace.

Her Majesty's Government have striven very hard in these last few months to bring about a peaceful solution of the conflict in Laos. It now seems that we may be within reach of that. The fact still remains—this is really the answer to the hon. Member's supplementary question—that we have our obligations under the Treaty of Manila, but of course we hope that we can bring about a peaceful settlement and have a conference which will ensure the neutrality, unity and independence of Laos.

Will not the right hon. Gentleman agree that the declaration by all 81 Communist and Workers' Parties claiming the right of military intervention in any conflict which they regard as anti-colonial, is the greatest possible threat to peace at the present time?

Middle East Sheikdoms (Assistance)


asked the Lord Privy Seal what is the total of military and other assistance Her Majesty's Government are providing to the sheikdoms in the Middle East, including Bahrain and Muscat and Oman.

The total estimate of economic and military assistance to the Sheikdoms of the Persian Gulf and to the Sultanate of Muscat and Oman for 1961 to 1962 is £2,774,325.

Would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that it is exceedingly foolish in this day and age for so much military assistance to be provided to prop up unpopular, corrupt and feudal regimes? Will he consider increasing the proportion of aid provided for education and social needs and for economic development?

I should have thought that the hon. Gentleman, with his past experience of the use of extravagent language, would have been rather careful over what he said about those parts of the word. This aid is used so that these countries may be able to defend themselves and to bring themselves to that stage of development which is desirable. With regard to civil aid also, we are only too anxious to help to the maximum extent.

Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us whether there is a reasonable credit balance here?

Egypt (Compensation Claims)


asked the Lord Privy Seal how many British claimants await compensation from the Egyptian Government; how much is due; and when it will be paid.

The United Arab Republic paid to Her Majesty's Government £27½ million as compensation under the Financial Agreement of 28th February, 1959. The Foreign Compensation Commission which administers this Compensation Fund, has received 1,806 applications formulated with details of losses. 953 have been assessed, leaving 853 formulated claims to be determined by the Commission. 2,974 applications have not yet been formulated by the claimants.

As claims are still being received, I cannot say how much will eventually be due in respect of all claims.

Compensation is also due to about 160 British officials dismissed by the Egyptian Government in 1951. Part of this has been paid but the balance still remains to be assessed by the Egyptian Government.

While I am obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for all that information, may I ask him whether it is not a fact that the British Government hold about £27½ million, of which less than £7 million has so far been disbursed? Even allowing for the fact that a certain number of claims in respect of sequestration have still to be finalised, could not the Government be a little more generous? Surely the Government would not be taking an undue risk if they released rather more of the £27½ million than they have so far done? With regard to the other problem of the officials dismissed by the Egyptian Government, has not the time come for the British Government to apply much more pressure to get this very deserving class of victims speedily recompensed?

In reply to the last part of the supplementary question, we have repeatedly urged on the Egyptian Government that they should make a final settlement in this respect, and a commission was set up to deal with this. We understand that the commission has virtually completed its work and that the matter is now being put to the Egyptian Ministers for decision. I hope that we may soon forge ahead with a settlement of this matter.

On the general matter, the number of claims which have still to be formulated—to the very large extent which I have mentioned—together with the considerable amount of property which is in process of being desequestrated, makes a firm calculation difficult. In the second Order in Council which we published before Christmas we went as far as we thought we could in making an additional distribution. It was so weighted that the smaller claims have received very much the larger proportion.

The dismissed civil servants are surely in a quite separate category from the others, because they were in contractual relationships with the Egyptian Government. Is my right hon. Friend aware that it is disheartening and, indeed, exasperating that these answers should be given year after year by the Government, and that the apparent impression of complete impotence on the part of the British Government and the Foreign Office is really tragic when one thinks of the situation of the men concerned, whose numbers are dwindling through the natural course of things?

These are, of course, two separate problems. We have urged with our utmost strength that the question of the officials who were dismissed should be settled. I hope from the information which I have given to the House that it will be possible to do this fairly soon.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that it is being alleged on behalf of the ex-Suez Canal pilots, and maybe others, that the Egyptian authorities are themselves putting a lot of counter-claims in the way of the restitution of the money to the former owners under the sequestration laws? Is our Embassy in Cairo sufficiently well staffed to deal with the situation, and is sufficient pressure being applied by the British Government to find out exactly on what grounds the Egyptian Government are doing this?

I have heard of individual cases of this nature, but I have not heard of it as being a general procedure. The Embassy in Cairo is staffed to deal with this matter, and Sir George Rendel and his assistants in the Foreign Office have just returned from Cairo after spending some five weeks there going through a large number of cases of this kind.

Antarctic Treaty


asked the Lord Privy Seal whether complete agreement on an Antarctic Treaty has now been reached with Argentina and Chile to ensure the peaceful administration of the Antarctic territories, including the Falkland Islands Dependencies.

As the House is aware, the Antarctic Treaty was signed in Washington on 1st December, 1959, between the Governments of 12 countries including the United Kingdom, Argentina and Chile. Article I of this Treaty lays down that Antarctica shall be used for peaceful purposes only. Ratification of the Treaty has now been completed by all signatories with the exception of Chile where the Senate has approved it unanimously but where the decision of the Lower House is still awaited. The Treaty will come into force upon the deposit of the instruments of ratification by all the signatory States.

Now that this welcome agreement has been reached on freeezing territorial claims south of latitude 60 in the Antarctic, is there a reasonable hope that Argentina will be rather less tiresome than she has recently been about the status of the Falkland Islands and the Falkland Islands Dependencies?

The position of the Falkland Islands, as I am sure my hon. Friend appreciates, is in no way affected by the treaty, but I hope that the stabilising action of getting agreement about the treaty will be of general help in the area.

Will the hon. Gentleman tell us what he means in the treaty by "peaceful purposes"? Can he also tell us what value, other than strategic, this area is to us?

What I was referring to was largely scientific purposes. There is a great deal of scientific investigation in which a number of countries are interested going on in the area, and I assure the hon. and learned Gentleman that this can be for peaceful purposes.

Spain (Minister's Visit)


asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he will take the opportunity of his visit to Spain at the end of the month to inform General Franco of the opposition of Her Majesty's Government to any proposal that Spain should be admitted to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

Will the right hon. Gentleman, in view of the situation, expand that brief Answer a little more? Can he assure us that the return of the Foreign Secretary to his former spiritual home has not resulted in any commitment or arrangement which this country might regret and disapprove of if it knew about it? Can he say whether or not the Government are opposed to the entry of Franco into N.A.T.O. so long as his Government continues in its present way of governing the country?

I have several times in the House in recent weeks made plain the position about this matter and that it is not before N.A.T.O. The only assurance that any Government can give is that when a matter is raised it should be considered in the light of the circumstances of the time, and that is the position of the Government. The visit of my noble Friend the Foreign Secretary is to help to maintain good relations with a friendly Power.

Would the Minister bear in mind, in view of his Answer, that all sane, mature, and unprejudiced minds in the free world would welcome the inclusion of this great and proud nation in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation?

Would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that the failure of the Spanish Government to prevent the escape of two rebel generals to join the rebellion against France in Algeria recently constitutes yet another argument against accepting Spain into N.A.T.O.?

I really cannot accept the hon. Gentleman's remarks in that context. All sorts of people have difficulty in preventing other people from escaping.

United Nations (Charter)


asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he will propose to the Security Council that the International Court of Justice be requested, under Article 96 of the Charter, to give an advisory opinion on the question of whether a Member State has a right to resort to force against another, by supporting counter-revolutionary intervention or otherwise.

Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that the United States Administration has formally claimed the right to resort to force to overthrow the Government of any Latin American State which it regards as Communist? As this claim strikes at the root of the rule of law and might, if acted upon, bring on a world war will he not show publicly, in some way, his concern about, and opposition to, any such doctrine?

I do not think that this is a matter to refer to the International Court.


School Leavers, Acton


asked the Minister of Labour, how many Easter school leavers are registered this year at Acton Employment Exchange; and how many of these are still awaiting employment.

Sixty-eight boys and 60 girls; by 10th April, none was still awaiting employment.

While I thank my hon. Friend for his reply, may I ask whether he would agree that the small numbers involved indicate a most encouraging trend among young people towards continuing at school at the end of the scholastic year? Does he not think that employers and potential employers should take note of this change when making future arrangements?

I agree with my hon. Friend. In the Acton area, there is a good variety of employment and training opportunities for young people.

Employment Exchange, Rothwell


asked the Minister of Labour when he intends to provide in the urban district of Rothwell, York shire, a more suitable employment exchange in view of the present office being in an area which is to be redeveloped.

The present employment exchange at Rothwell is centrally situated and in a reasonably satisfactory building which, I understand, is not likely to be affected by the demolition of property in the area. The need for re-housing is, however, being kept under review.

Is the Minister aware that this building is old, dilapidated and quite unsuitable? Does he realise that the building itself, which I used myself over 20 years ago, is a disgrace to the Ministry, and will he give a promise that he will have another look at the Question I have put to him?

As I have said, the need for providing alternative accommodation is being kept under review at the moment. The building is nearly 60 years old, and I agree that it is not very attractive, but the fabric is sound and redecorations were carried out in 1959.

Dockers, Tilbury


asked the Minister of Labour how many dockers at Tilbury have been unemployed on each working day from 1st March, 1961, to the latest convenient date; and how these figures compare with the similar period last year.

As the reply contains a table of figures, I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the reply:

(1) From 1st March, 1960 to 16th April, 1960:
1st March12725th March203
2nd March1826th March308
3rd March4628th March190
4th March13029th March235
5th March31530th March92
7th March9331st March448
8th March761st April482
9th March1142nd April423
10th March374th April18
11th March115th April84
12th March2896th April5
14th March 37th April10
15th March578th April12
16th March2919th April266
17th March 48611th April225
18th March28512th April152
19th March34113th April145
21st March1214th April35
22nd March615th AprilPublic Holiday
23rd March8
24th March5316th April190

(2) From 1st March, 1961 to 15th April, 1961:
1st March15925th March490
2nd March15727th March112
3rd March11628th March340
4th March37529th March351
6th March13730th March574
7th March28231st MarchPublic Holiday
8th March391
9th March7271st April639
10th March6923rd AprilPublic Holiday
11th March517
13th March834th April239
14th March1935th April82
15th March2916th April284
16th March4877th April593
17th March4368th April683
18th March58910th April535
20th March38911th April469
21st March33512th April537
22nd March39613th April767
23rd March41714th April576
24th March42415th April574
NOTE: These figures do not include tally clerks.

Tally Clerks, Tilbury


asked the Minister of Labour how many tally clerks have been unemployed at Tilbury on each working day from 1st March, 1961, to the latest convenient date.

As the reply consists of a table of figures, I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Can the Minister confirm the information that I have received that in fact there has been unemployment every day during that period and even over a longer period? If that is so, does it not indicate that the fear of unemployment expressed by these men in opposition to the proposed further recruitment was well-founded?

As the hon. Gentleman knows, it is quite true that there has been an increase in the number proving attendance compared with last year when, as he will remember, the figure was very low. I am sure that he also realises that it is the duty of the National Dock Labour Board in consultation with the local labour board concerned to keep the size of the register under review and to adjust it if necessary. I also understand that the Board expects that some part of the slack will be taken up when the holiday season arrives and the new pension scheme comes into force.

Following is the Table:

1st March4125th March23
2nd March2927th March20
3rd March2028th March30
4th March4529th March44
6th March1930th March57
7th March2131st MarchPublic Holiday
8th March44
9th March531st April54
10th March613rd AprilPublic Holiday
11th March54
13th March34th April33
14th March75th April16
15th March76th April8
16th March137th April30
17th March288th April50
18th March3610th April48
20th March3111th April38
21st March512th April50
22nd March413th April65
23rd March414th April32
24th March1115th April35

Shipyard Workers, Aberdeen


asked the Minister of Labour if he is aware that more shipyard workers in Messrs. Hall, Russells' shipyard, Aberdeen, were paid off on Friday, 14th April, greatly increasing the numbers unemployed there, and that this is inimical to productivity, the export drive, and intake of foreign currency; and if he will take immediate steps to ascertain the cause of this increased unemployment in Aberdeen and have the matter rectified.

I am aware that lack of orders has resulted in 45 workers being discharged on 14th April and a further 51 since then. Sixty-three have so far registered at the employment exchange, and, of these, 11 have obtained other employment. The local officers of the Ministry are doing everything possible to assist those registering.

Does the Minister realise that the great national losses referred to in the Question are due largely to the Government's contumacious refusal to implement the Fleck Report? Will he, in conjunction with the relevant Ministers, get cracking on that aspect?

The Fleck Committee's recommendations are at the moment under consideration. Despite the contumelious nature of the hon. and learned Gentleman's supplementary question, I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture will take note of what he has said.

Domestic Service


asked the Minister of Labour if he will consider the setting up of a wages council to regulate the conditions of employment of people in domestic service.

We have no evidence to suggest that a wages council is needed to give statutory protection of the conditions of employment of people in domestic service.

Is not the Parliamentary Secretary aware that domestic service is possibly the only remaining sector of employment where employees have no real protection against bad employers? Will he consult his right hon. Friend again and obtain evidence which, I am sure, he would regard as affording proof that a wages council should be set up in order that minimum conditions and wages should be laid down?

My right hon. Friend will give full consideration to any evidence which comes before him of unsatisfactory conditions of employment, but, as the hon. Gentleman will know, the demand for domestic workers far exceeds the supply, and it seems unlikely that domestic workers would find it difficult to obtain work in reasonable conditions.

I have evidence from my constituency relating to one domestic in a large house who has definite complaints about bad conditions and being asked to work long hours for no added pay. Is the hon. Gentleman aware that, in making further inquiries, I have found that such things seem to be more widespread than is generally known—[Interruption.]—and this is not a matter which should cause hilarity on the part of some hon. Members opposite who are themselves possibly guilty of such abuses?

I have said that we will certainly consider any evidence which is brought before us, but we have received no representations on the matter. We have no evidence that domestic workers are unable to find reasonable conditions and wages.

Is the domestic training scheme which we had at the Ministry of Labour some years ago still in operation, and under that scheme did we not ask for minimum rates compatible with the service rendered?

I take it that the hon. Gentleman is referring to the National Institute of Houseworkers. That is still in operation, and the Ministry of Labour makes annually a substantial grant to it.

Immigrants (Unemployment)


asked the Minister of Labour, in view of the fact that there is still a high rate of unemployment in many areas amongst coloured immigrants, if he will consult with the Secretary of State for the Home Department with a view to the introduction of legislation to stop all further immigration until the existing problems of employment, housing, and health have been solved; and if he will make a statement.

As my hon. Friend knows, this is a matter which is being closely considered by the Government. I have nothing to add to recent statements on the subject.

Does the unrestricted immigration of coloured people into this country cause my right hon. Friend no anxieties at all?

As I have just said, the Government are considering the position, and statements have been made recently by my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary.

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider again the suggestion I put to the Government in 1954 that they might convene a conference of local authorities particularly concerned in this matter with a view to finding a reasonable solution to the problems involved?

I am grateful for what the hon. Member has said. The Government are studying the problem and will take into consideration the views of local authorities and others.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the majority of people will probably be very much opposed to any control of immigration, and that the real way to settle problems such as that created by West Indian immigration is to provide living conditions in the West Indies which will be a magnet for employment there, and that this can be done only by safeguarding Commonwealth trade?

As is obvious, there are differing views on this question. There is a problem, and the solution must be thought out very carefully. The Government are doing that.

Did we not hear from the Chancellor of the Exchequer the other day that he proposes to introduce a payroll tax because of the shortage of labour in this country?


asked the Minister of Labour which are the six areas where coloured immigrant unemployment shows the highest figures; what they are in each case; what percentage they are of the total for the area; and why they are finding difficulty in obtaining employment.

The six Ministry of Labour regions with the greatest number of unemployed Commonwealth immigrants are London and South Eastern, Midland, North Western, East and West Ridings, North Midland, and Eastern and Southern. The greatest concentrations are in London and the Midlands. I will, with permission, circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT the latest available figures for which the hon. Member asks.

The majority of Commonwealth immigrants are unemployed for relatively short periods. Some of them, however, find difficulty in obtaining employment because they lack the necessary aptitude and experience for the vacancies which are available.

In view of the fact that it was publicly stated in one of the London districts that half the unemployed were coloured people, and in view of the fear expressed by the hon. Member for Thurrock (Mr. Delargy) which shows that hon. Members now fear unemployment, does not my right hon. Friend think that something should be done to control the flood into this country if only through a threat from an employment point of view?

I do not wish to weary the House by repetition. There is a problem, and that is why the Government are considering it. I think it important, however, in view of my hon. Friend's Questions, that I should say that, of the unemployed coloured immigrants we are considering, one-third are women and two-thirds have been unemployed for less than eight weeks.

RegionNumber of immigrants unemployed on 7th February, 1961Total adult unemployed on 13th February, 1961Immigrants as a percentage of total register
London and South Eastern7,80057,67113·5
North Western78348,2411·6
East and West Ridings58218,9613·1
North Midland48319,4222·5
Eastern and Southern48336,1451·3

Will the Minister confirm that the total number of immigrants, coloured or otherwise, is infinitesimal in relation to the population of this country, and ought not any civilised nation of 55 million people to be able easily to absorb about 300,000 people? Is he aware of the infinite damage done in the Commonwealth by the racialist prejudices of the hon. Member for Louth (Mr. C. Osborne)?

I could not more strongly deny what the hon. Member has said. There is no racialist prejudice here. All thinking people realise that there is a problem. It must be looked at fairly and without prejudice, and that is what the Government are doing.

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Since the hon. Member for Louth (Mr. C. Osborne) dragged my name into his supplementary question, almost indicating that I share his racial views, may I say that I do not, and that I regard them as obnoxious?

Did my right hon. Friend intend to convey—if he did, I think it unfortunate—that the stress should be on colour? It is a non-racial Commonwealth. The problem is not one of coloured immigrants. It is a problem of immigrants.

I hope that I did not give that impression. In answer to a supplementary question from the hon. Member for Barking (Mr. Driberg), I denied that my right hon. and hon. Friends were motivated by colour prejudice in any way.

Following are the figures:

Maternity Protection (Ilo Convention)


asked the Minister of Labour when it is his intention to ratify Convention No. 103 of the International Labour Organisation concerning maternity protection.

The position remains as stated in Cmd. 9082 presented to the House in March, 1954, and the Government do not propose to ratify this Convention.

I agree that, fundamentally, these matters are better settled between employer and employee, on a voluntary basis, but what does my right hon. Friend suggest can be done when the employer and the employed fail, perhaps, to carry out what are, I think, the accepted arrangements when there are maternity cases involved in employment? In view of his hon. Friend's agreement in answer to another question to look at any problems where people are not getting on very well in industry, will he consider cases of this kind?

I agree that this is primarily a matter best settled between the employer and worker. My hon. Friend will appreciate that this Convention does not guarantee an expectant woman against dismissal. It is a very difficult problem which in the ordinary way can be settled properly only by good sense in the relationship between employer and employee.

As there are employers, including, unfortunately, the Press Association, who are still following the barbaric practice of dismissing married women employees who have been with them for 15 years simply because they have become pregnant, does not the Minister think that the time has come for us to follow the example of France and to give protection to the right of reinstatement of married women by law as is done in that country?

I think that that would be very difficult. I understand the hon. Lady's feeling about this, but, once we start legislating, we are in danger of prejudicing the position of married women and of putting them under restraints which would make life more difficult for them than it is at the moment.

Ship-Repairing Dispute, Liverpool

The following Question stood upon the Order Paper:


To ask the Minister of Labour whether he will make a further statement on the Liverpool ship-repairing dispute.

On a point of order. In view of the importance of Question No. 41, and as we have heard today that this strike may well spread to many thousands of other people in Liverpool, I wonder whether the Minister of Labour could be allowed to make a statement on it?

If the Minister asks leave to answer the Question, I will deal with the matter, but I have not received any such request.

I am perfectly willing, Mr. Speaker, with your permission, to answer the hon. Gentleman's Question.

Representatives of the District Committee of the Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions met the Employers' Association on 27th April, but failed to reach agreement. The District Committee met yesterday and recommended its affiliated unions to withdraw all labour from Merseyside ship-repairing yards after Friday. My regional industrial relations officer is endeavouring to arrange an early joint meeting under his chairmanship.

I am very much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for making that statement. In view of the very serious turn which has taken place, and as this strike has gone on for 14 weeks, will the Minister now consider referring it to the executive councils of the unions concerned, so that we may hope for arbitration at a very early date?

I am in some difficulty with this matter. I think that the hon. Gentleman would agree that, if possible, the best thing would be to arrange a joint meeting. If that is not successful, then I will certainly consider other methods of dealing with the situation.

As the senior Member of Parliament for Liverpool, may I say that I am not at all satisfied with the manner in which the question of unemployment in Liverpool has been dealt with. We have had men out on strike for 16 weeks. If it takes 16 weeks to negotiate with able administrators of the House of Commons, I do not know how long it would take the ordinary individual to reach conciliation in this matter. In view of the loss of £800,000 to the dock-workers of Liverpool, and since the employers would not negotiate or see the men, may I ask what steps the Ministry of Labour proposes to take to bring matters to a satisfactory conclusion?

In view of the danger that the men at the dockside faced during the war, risking their lives, when many of them were injured and killed, do the shipowners of Liverpool think that an appropriate reward to the workers is to keep them out of work for 16 weeks and to let their families want? I do not think that they are aware of their moral obligations. I have represented the people of Liverpool for thirty-one-and-a-half years. Is it not time that something was done for these men? I want to know—[Laughter.] I am pleased to see hon. Members on the Government benches smiling, for whenever I meet them in the Lobby they have the most ugly faces. [Laughter.] It is pleasant to have a small diversion in the life of the House of Commons at times. When the Shipping Federation asks for a subsidy for a new liner for Liverpool, will the right hon. Gentleman say to the Government that it should not get it until it makes good the wages which have been lost by the men who have been out of employment?

I think that the whole House is aware of the passionate feeling which the hon. Gentleman has for the people of Merseyside, and for Liverpool in particular. I am grateful to him for his suggestions. I will certainly do all I can to help in this matter.

Orders Of The Day

Republic Of South Africa (Temporary Provisions) Bill

Considered in Committee [ Progress, 1st May].

[Sir GORDON TOUCHE in the Chair]

Clause 1—(Operation Of Existing Law In Relation To South Africa)

3.38 p.m.

I beg to move, in page 1, line 11, after the first "law" to insert:

"other than the Visiting Forces (British Commonwealth) Act, 1933, and the Visiting Forces Act, 1952".
I am glad to see that, as the result of pressure which some of us put on the Government at a late hour on Monday, they decided that it was better that we should continue discussion on this Bill today. As a result, we now have the pleasure of the presence of the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, who, apparently, was otherwise engaged on the last occasion. I do not complain about that; I merely say that it is nice to have him with us today.

There is a number, although not very many, of South African Army and, I think, Air Force personnel training in this country. They come under the Visiting Forces Act, 1952. We are told that they are training for a number of different tasks, but principally as parachutists. In answer to a Question on 30th March, 1960, the Secretary of State for Air said:
"About 30 officers and 60 airmen of the South African Air Force have received training in Royal Air Force establishments during the past five years. None is receiving training at present."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 30th March, 1960; Vol. 620, c.142.]
We were told by the Secretary of State for War, on 9th November last year, that
"During the past year seven South African officers and three other ranks have attended Army courses in the United Kingdom and British Army of the Rhine, in addition to those who are being trained at the Royal Air Force Parachute School…"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 9th November, 1960; Vol. 629, c.56.]
Those men are being trained for some purpose and it is interesting to consider what that purpose might be. It might be for the assistance which South Africans would give in the event of a global war. It is understandable that they might give assistance in that way, but apparently that is not the case, because Mr. Erasmus, the former South African Minister of Defence, said in Pretoria, on 2nd December:
"The most important thing remaining for the South African defence force in the foreseeable future is to guard against subversive activities and terrorism of the kind that has arisen in Algeria…"
That means that these men are being trained for that purpose and if any confirmation of that is needed, it was given by Mr. Fouche, the present South African Minister of Defence, who said:
"In the past, when the rôle of the South African forces was mainly to give support to South Africa's allies…"
certain conditions and considerations prevailed. Today, apparently, the situation is different and that is not the main rôle of the South African forces. Their main rôle is assisting the police in keeping law and order in South Africa.

It is not right that these men should be trained in this country and should be given the protection of the Visiting Forecs Act if they are to be engaged in activities of that kind when they return and if the training which they get here is to be used for that purpose.

We therefore feel that the Bill should be amended so that the Visiting Forces Act does not apply to South Africa. We hope that the Minister will explain to us a little more how many South African forces are training here, what they are doing, what protection is given to them, and whether he will consider not applying that Act to them. This is a perfectly simple Amendment and would cause the right hon. Gentleman no difficulty and it could be done without the Commonwealth Relations Office having to undergo all the travail and trouble of pursuing facts about South Africa which it ought to have known before, but which it did not know, as we discovered the other night. I hope that the Secretary of State will tell us what he can do to help in this very difficult situation.

It might be helpful to the Committee if I say something about the two Acts which the Amendment mentions. The first is the Visiting Forces (British Commonwealth) Act, 1933, and the second is the Visiting Forces Act, 1952. The purpose of the first is to apply British Service discipline to indidividual members of Commonwealth forces serving with British Services, or with British Service establishments. At present, there are only 33 members of South African forces here on training courses, or for other purposes, and it is desirable that British military codes of discipline should continue to apply to them.

Earlier in our discussions, reference was made to paratroopers training here. There are no South African paratroopers now under training in this country and we have not made arrangements to take any more. The Act also makes useful provision for dealing with powers of command and discipline when Commonwealth units are serving together at sea, for instance.

The Visiting Forces Act, 1952, repealed some parts of the 1933 Act, but purposely left the provisions to which I have just referred. That Act deals with the problem of forces, as opposed to individuals, when visiting this country. It is not affected by the Bill, because, like the British Nationality Act, it mentions Commonwealth countries by name and not by reference to membership of the Commonwealth. It also refers to foreign countries, if designated for that purpose by Order in Council.

As the right hon. Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Dugdale) reminded the Committee, we have defence arrangements with South Africa which we entered because they were mutually advantageous to us, and to our allies in N.A.T.O. Those arrangements, like all other arrangements which we have made with South Africa, will have to be reviewed, always bearing in mind the need to safeguard central British interests. I can say that that review has already begun.

My right hon. Friend is fully seized of the right hon. Gentleman's point of view, but to withdraw the application of the 1933 code would be to prejudge the result of the review upon which we are now engaged, which would not be advisable in this case any more than in all the other matters, of which many are contentious. They will have to be reviewed and are, therefore, covered by the Bill. For those reasons, I earnestly hope that the right hon. Gentleman will see fit to withdraw the Amendment.

3.45 p.m.

We have recently had a series of speeches from Ministers of the Union of South Africa, warning of the danger and difficulties in South Africa and insisting upon the strengthening of military forces to deal with internal problems within South Africa, or, as one Minister put it, problems which might arise from invasions such as that which has taken place from the Congo into Angola.

If difficulties of that kind arise, there will be conflicts between the Government and the African population of the Union, or with African supporters from outside the territory. I would like an assurance that during the year of standstill any treaty which we have with the Union will not be used to strengthen the forces of the Union in any internal struggle with the African people.

I appreciate that my second point is more difficult and that, in some senses, I shall be speaking for myself rather than for the whole of my party. We are in a dilemma in the whole problem of defence in the Continent of Africa. The Under-Secretary said that our military arrangements with the Union Government were of mutual benefit and of value to N.A.T.O. But we must balance any military advantages against the reluctance of the African people of those territories to be involved in military commitments of that kind. The sweep of opinion in the Continent of Africa is towards neutralism and to be free from N.A.T.O. and from Western commitments.

We must be careful, even in the case of the Union of South Africa, to judge between the advantage of any military arrangements there and the degree of resistance which those arrangements will arouse in the majority of the population in South Africa, which is now disfranchised, but which is fundamentally opposed, as are other African peoples, to being committed to military arrangements which may be of value to us and to N.A.T.O., but against the tide of opinion in Africa.

To the Secretary of State, now on the Front Bench, to whom I would say a word of welcome back from his mission to Sierra Leone, I say that we must be very careful indeed, in any defence arrangements which are made with the Union of South Africa, to ensure that they do not have the effect opposite to that intended and actually weaken our position.

There must be very few hon. Members in the Committee, though I see one or two faces dotted about in one place or another, who were here in this Chamber and actually spoke when the original Visiting Forces (British Commonwealth) Act—Bill, as it then was—was discussed here in 1933. I was one of those, and I remember the feelings which were expressed then about the proposal that some special treatment should be afforded to visiting forces from the Commonwealth. The whole atmosphere then was that the Commonwealth was at that time acting and was likely to act in the foreseeable future with one mind in dealing with its military forces, and for that reason special provisions, privileges—call them what you will—were introduced and were generally acceptable.

It is a very different situation today with regard to South Africa. We have heard from my right hon. Friend the Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Dugdale) how the purposes for which the South African forces are likely to be used have been stated by Ministers in South Africa. I suppose that nobody would think that this Committee would approve of giving support to the forces of South Africa which were to be used primarily, if not entirely, for the purposes stated by those South African Ministers. That brings into effect now a situation totally different from the situation which was ruling at the time when the original Bill was introduced.

I appreciate the point which was made by the Joint Under-Secretary of State that these two Acts, the 1933 Act and the 1952 Act, are in different classes in that the former one would be affected by the Bill whereas the second would not, but I submit to the right hon. Gentleman, who may be replying finally upon this matter, that it is exceedingly important that we should do nothing at all in this Committee which would seek to give support to the policies which are being carried out in South Africa by the South African Nationalist Government.

Since the hon. Gentleman is right that the 1952 Act is not within the purview of the Bill, I submit to the Minister that he should consider taking the first Act out of the purview of the Bill, because I am sure that he will agree that it is important that we should do right in this matter—that we should do it demonstrably, and that the whole of Africa should see that we are determined to take every step we can to dissociate ourselves, in a perfectly friendly manner, from the policies of apartheid which are being carried out by the Nationalist Government of South Africa.

In a few words I, too, support what has been said from this side of the Committee. I do not think that public opinion in this country would take very kindly to any facilities being provided by the United Kingdom to the Armed Forces of the Union of South Africa in any way, particularly in view of the fact that Ministers have made clear in the Union during the past few weeks that their forces are to be used mainly for internal order, which is tantamount to saying that they intend to use military might to the full to suppress the three-quarters of the population which is opposed to apartheid.

The opinion of the British public on this issue—and this concerns both sides of this Committee, in which, upon this, there is no division—is very strong indeed, and we want a clear assurance from the Secretary of State that there will be no question of any assistance being given to South African defence forces in these circumstances.

There is a further question which I should like to have clarified, and it refers to the position of the High Commission Territories and the defence arrangements with the Union. Are we to understand that the review, which the Joint Undersecretary of State has already told us will be carried out, includes a review of the radar and other defence arrangements in Bechuanaland, Basutoland and Swaziland?

I ask the Minister specifically whether we shall make clear to the Union authorities that no transit facilities across Bechuanaland will be allow to Union troops travelling to the mandated area of the South-West where the Union authorities, in defiance of the United Nations, are carrying out the policies of apartheid. I am sure both sides of the Committee condemn the activities in which they are engaged. They do use facilities through Bechuanaland to move their troops into that mandated territory. I hope that when he replies to this short debate the Secretary of State will make it quite clear that those facilities will no longer be allowed.

I want, first, to clear up with the Government the point raised by the Joint Under-Secretary of State and raised again by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Brigg (Mr. E. L. Mallalieu). That is the question of the 1952 Act. The Under-Secretary of State said that the 1952 Act did not come into the purview of the Bill.

The hon. Gentleman keeps saying to us that sort of thing about this, that or the other Act, and it seems to me that he is in a complete muddle about the application of the Bill. We felt this during the earlier proceedings of the Committee on the Bill, when we got no satisfaction whatever from him about the Nationality Acts. We hope that now, since he has been reinforced by his right hon. Friend, we can get at least this matter clear, because it is important as a matter of order, apart from any other considerations.

This Clause says quite plainly that
"all existing law which operates as law of, or of any part of, the United Kingdom shall, unless provision to the contrary is made by an authority having power to alter that law, have the same operation in relation to the Republic of South Africa…as it would have had…if the Union had not become a Republic and had continued to be a member of the Commonwealth."
That means that the Bill applies to all law of the United Kingdom Parliament which deals with the relationships between this country and the Union of South Africa, so we are perfectly entitled to raise these matters and discuss them thoroughly. I think that the hon. Gentleman was trying to draw a distinction between those Acts of the United Kingdom which would automatically lapse if the Bill were not passed and other Acts, but all those Acts come within the purview of the Bill and we are fully entitled to ask questions about them.

4.0 p.m.

I hope that the Secretary of State will go a great deal further than did the Under-Secretary, to whom we are grateful for giving hon. Members some of the factual background material to this Act, but that explanation did not take into account the reason for our tabling this Amendment. The main reason for our tabling it is to obtain from the Government assurances concerning their behaviour on defence arrangements between this country and the Union of South Africa during the standstill period. We received no such assurances from the Under-Secretary, and thus we are seeking them from the Secretary of State.

Some of the points on which we are seeking clarification have already been made by my hon. Friends. The Undersecretary has stated that there are no paratroopers from South Africa at present receiving training in Britain, but, he told us, there were 33 South African Service men here. Can the Secretary of State give a clearer indication of how these 33 Service men are being employed, so that we can make up our minds whether their employment involves the kind of help that we should or should not be giving? My hon. Friends and I draw a sharp distinction between the kind of defence co-operation which is right for the time being, and the type of co-operation that would be considered to be normal between the two countries and in our joint interest.

My hon. Friend the Member for Slough (Mr. Brockway) expressed his own view on this subject, and I agree with him that when the final form of government in South Africa becomes more democratic, we shall have to discuss with the Union Government, in the light of their policies, what defence arrangements can be arrived at between our two countries. It may be that a Union Government of the future may have a neutralist policy. If that happens, we will have to respect their view and operate from the standpoint that neutralist countries in Africa and Asia have an important rôle to play in preserving the peace of the world. In the meantime, we are entitled to know what defence arrangements will be made with the Government of the Union of South Africa.

We are equally entitled to know, and to be assured, that, whatever form of defence co-operation takes place, that co-operation will not lead to Britain helping the Union Government to forward their own police policies. We require a firm assurance from the Government that during the standstill period—however long it may last—there will be no training offered in this country to any South African forces that would result in that training being used for internal policies of apartheid being imposed by military force.

We also require assurances that during this period of standstill no military supplies will be provided to South Africa if there is the slightest chance of those supplies being used for similar military purposes. On the Second Reading of the Bill, I question the Government on this specific point. I asked them to make sure that in the event of violence breaking out during this standstill period, it could not possibly be said that British military supplies were being used by the South African Government to enforce their policies by means of military power.

A further point arises, and this was mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Wednesbury (Mr. Stonehouse). We want a firm assurance that the British Government will not, during the standstill period, offer transit facilities to South African forces through the High Commission Territories to reach the mandated territory of South-West Africa. In this connection, I must draw the Government's attention to what seems to be an astonishing Section of the 1933 Act. The Section may have been understandable at the time the Act was passed, but in present-day circumstances it requires attention by the Government.

I refer to Section 6, in which paragraph (a) says that visiting forces under the Visiting Forces (British Commonwealth) Act, 1933, shall apply
"in relation to any territory in respect of which a mandate on behalf of the League of Nations is being exercised by His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom as if that territory were for the time being a colony;"
The implication of that provision is very serious in relation to the whole position of South-West Africa at the present time. Hon. Members on both sides of the Committee hold the view that South-West Africa is a United Nations mandated territory, that the Union of South Africa is in breach of its mandate there, and that the Union has annexed the territory in defiance of the request of the United Nations.

My hon. Friends and I have over a long period been seeking that the British Government should take a more active rôle in the United Nations to ensure that South Africa's annexation of South-West Africa should not be recognised. Yet we find in the Act of 1933, in respect of defence arrangements, a statutory provision that Her Majesty's Government shall treat South-West Africa as though it were part of the territory of the Union of South Africa. In view of that, we want Her Majesty's Government's comments on that Section of the 1933 Act. If the Government say that it is impossible to amend the present Bill to give the assurances we require, they must make it clear that, during the standstill period, there will be no transit facilities offered to the Union of South Africa to use military force in the mandated territory of South West Africa in support of the Union Government's policy of apartheid.

I must make it clear that, on this point, we require from the Government more than just a legalistic explanation of the position. We want details of the Government's proposals. My hon. Friends and I accept, in all these Amendments, the position adopted by the Secretary of State in his speech during the Second Reading of the Bill—the position that South Africa's departure from the Commonwealth cannot mean that relationships will remain as they were previously, or that it will appear that South Africa is still a member.

My hon. Friends and I fear that the period of negotiation may be misunderstood in other parts of the Commonwealth, and by non-Commonwealth countries, to mean that there is not to be a definite change in our relationship with South Africa. It is important not only that the Government should make a change, but that they should show, openly, that a change is being made. During this period of negotiation, the issues of defence should receive special attention, and the least the Government can do in the circumstances is to give the assurances that we are seeking.

On one issue, we are adamant, that during the standstill period the British Government will not provide the kind of defence co-operation that might lead to the military imposition of the policies of apartheid.

The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Dugdale) referred to my absence on Monday night. I was, in fact in an aeroplane somewhere over the Sahara—and that accounts for my absence from the House. I am glad, however, to have this opportunity of taking part in the resumed debate on the Bill.

Various hon. Members have raised a number of points and I will try to deal with them as best I can. The hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. G. M. Thomson) raised the question of the application of the Bill to the 1952 Act, and complained that my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary was "muddle-minded" about this matter. I can assure hon. Members that the Parliamentary Secretary was perfectly correct in what he said. The Bill does not affect the application of the 1952 Act. [Interruption.] Does the hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) wish to intervene?

I thank the Minister for giving the explanation he gave about his absence, which is perfectly acceptable.

We were interested to find how many important Acts were not affected by the Bill. That seems to throw some light on the lack of necessity for having a twelvemonths standstill period.

I do not know whether the hon. Lady was present during my speech on Second Reading. I then gave a list of a considerable number of Acts which were affected and which would cease to have effect on 31st May in respect of South Africa if the Bill were not passed. I know that hon. Members opposite do not like this, but I made it clear that the Bill is a fairly pedestrian affair and does not deal with some of the main issues of policy which interested hon. Members. They have been very ingenious in managing to speak on these matters, but they are not directly connected with the Bill.

The purpose of the Bill is to ensure that Acts applying to South Africa which would cease to apply on 31st May will continue to apply for a period of one year while we are considering the issues involved. Any Act which refers to South Africa by name, and which applies to South Africa by reason of the fact that South Africa is mentioned in it by name, will not cease to have effect because South Africa becomes a Republic, or leaves the Commonwealth. Those Acts, therefore, will continue in force after 31st May unless some action is taken by the House of Commons to repeal or amend them.

Matters covered by these Acts and other Measures will be within the scope of our general review of policy in relation to South Africa, but no legislation is needed at this stage. At the end of the standstill period, which is more likely to be less than a year, the Government will introduce legislation which will cover not only the matters with which this Bill is concerned, but all matters where a change in the law is desirable. At the moment, we are concerned only with holding the position in respect of those Acts of Parliament which will cease to have effect if we do not take this action at the moment.

Our difficulty is that in his speech on Second Reading the right hon. Gentleman gave a list of Acts which would be affected by the Bill. We then took the view that they were pedestrian, but we have found in the course of discussion that a considerable number of other Acts are affected. We find now that one of the defence Acts comes under the Bill. We find that the Fugitive Offenders Act comes under it and that statutory powers for arrangements for Imperial Preference come under it. When we find that the Bill covers all these matters we find that it goes very much wider than the pedestrian steps which the right hon. Gentleman took.

I do not think that any great issues of policy arise. I hope that I shall be forgiven by the Chair if I try to elucidate the position. This might be helpful. We could have tried in these few weeks to make up our minds about all the numerous issues raised by these various Acts and have tried to rush through some legislation, but I do not think that we could have done a very satisfactory job. Consultations are involved with South Africa on reciprocal rights and relations, and we would have had to have consultations with a great many territories which are affected. As a practical step, it would not have been sensible to try to rush things through.

Another method would have been to pick and choose. To say, "This we want to change. We will settle on that and this and leave the others for discussion." I think that that would have been an untidy arrangement. We took the view that we should have a blanket arrangement which would ensure a standstill on all legislation affecting South Africa while we had a look at the whole picture and then presented to Parliament a Bill incorporating all the changes that seemed necessary. Whatever the view taken about the issues involved, the Amendment now before the Committee would mean picking out this or that item.

I think that we ought to get on, but if it is an important point I will give way.

4.15 p.m.

The question of transit through High Commission Territories is obviously not affected at the moment. There is no firm commitment of any kind, but we are interested in transit through South African territory just as the South Africans are interested in transit through ours. There are no radar instruments in the High Commission Territories and, therefore, that point does not arise.

I quite understand the point raised by the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Brockway) about feelings on the question of Africa and defence agreements, but I think that there is a realisation awakening in Africa that some of these arrangements are perhaps to the advantage not only of countries outside Africa, but of countries in Africa itself. It is in the nature of things that the fact that there are defence agreements discourages other countries from interfering or threatening to interfere in African affairs.

The defence agreements comprise one of the relationships with South Africa which will be included within the scope of the review, but it would be very difficult to come to any conclusions about that in a hurry. All our defensive arrangements with South Africa are of mutual benefit. They are of benefit to us as well as to South Africa, and to South Africa as well as to us, and I doubt whether we will want to brush all these things lightly aside.

There is no police training going on in this country for the South African police. The hon. and learned Member for Brigg (Mr. E. L. Mallalieu) said that few hon. Members were present in 1933 when the Visiting Forces (British Commonwealth) Act was passed. I thought that the hon. and learned Member was about to refer to 1909 when the South Africa Act was passed. I think that it was my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) who introduced that into the House.

The purpose of the Visiting Forces Act is to apply British Service discipline to individual members of Commonwealth forces serving with British forces or in British Service establishments in this country. As long as there are these people serving with or attached to our military establishments here, it is very much in our interests that they should be under a proper code of military discipline. As has been said, there are about 33 members of the South African forces here on training courses and it is desirable that they should be under the same discipline as others have been hitherto.

I have dealt as far as I could with most of the points raised, but all these matters will be included in the review which we are undertaking and we do not think that it would be right or sensible to try to prejudge aspects of that review in advance.

On this side of the Committee, we have recognised, in respect of trade, that an agreement fairly negotiated between two parties to their mutual advantage would not be one to which we would object. Our attitude on defence matters is precisely the same. We readily concede that a defence agreement entered into with the Union of South Africa after it has become an independent country, provided that this is clearly to our advantage as well as to South Africa's and is well and thoroughly negotiated with an eye to the advantage to this country and without regard to internal circumstances in South Africa, might be necessary. As my right hon. Friend the Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Dugdale) said when introducing the Amendment, we can just conceive circumstances of what he called a global war in which wider and more general interests than those of racial segregation might have to prevail.

Having said that, I am still very disappointed that the Minister did not go further to meet the point of view which we have expressed. The subject has been debated very moderately and quietly with no extravagant or absurd suggestions. When we have questioned them in the past about various occurrences in South Africa, the Government have frequently said that certain matters are the internal affair of South Africa. In defence matters we do not want to be mixed up in internal affairs in South Africa.

Unhappily, we cannot prevent the South African Government from repressing their own population if they wish to do so, but we can make a definite and clear statement that we shall not help to do that in any way. We are bound to raise the question when we realise that in the acts of repression which were deplored on both sides of the House, which took place at Sharpeville and Langa, military equipment manufactured in this country was used.

We blame nobody for that, because it had been supplied before any threat of that kind was apparent, but surely it is reasonable and sensible, now that we know the situation in South Africa and that such incidents of civil war—because they are no less than that—may take place, for the right hon. Gentleman to say that there will be non-intervention on our part. Non-intervention is a phrase with rather unhappy associations, but why should it not be used in this case?

We are bound to refer to these matters not merely because they occurred at the time of Sharpeville and Langa, but because there are reports in South African newspapers about new developments. Referring to the new Defence Bill which was introduced there, the Johannesburg Star of 25th February said:
"It facilitates the swift call-up of the defence forces either for war or, what is the obvious intention, the prevention or suppression of internal disorder."
That was in a South African newspaper. We all knew clearly that the purpose of the new Defence Act was suppression. We know that trouble has been going on in Pondoland. The people of Transkei have passed a resolution in their council demanding independence. That might well lead to civil war in Transkei.

We have the possibility of this within the period of a year, and we are asking that no fresh British equipment should be sent in that period and no assistance given to South African troops who may be engaged in civil war in Transkei or Pondoland or elsewhere by training people in this country. That is all that we are asking.

We are certainly not asking—at any rate, that was not my purpose in putting my name to the Amendment—that no defence agreement should be negotiated. As we said many times during the earlier stages of the Bill, we want negotiations. All we ask for is a more forthcoming statement from the right hon. Gentleman that he intends to see that the fears which have been expressed on this side of the Committee are completely met. Let him say, "You need have no fears of this kind. It is not our intention in any way to support South Africa in repressive activities. We realise that the whole of the British people would dislike that intensely. We ourselves dislike it very much and we have no intention whatever of helping them". Cannot we have such an assurance? The one word "Yes" would do to that kind of approach to the problem.

In view of the right hon. Gentleman's assurance that no more paratroopers are coming to this country, which is a very important assurance, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I beg to move, in page 1, line 12, to leave out from "shall" to "have" in line 13.

The Amendment proposes to leave out the following words:
"unless provision to the contrary is made by an authority having power to alter that law".
I want to ask my right hon. Friend some questions about this somewhat unusual form of words. Subsection (1) provides, as we discussed on the last Amendment, for a standstill on all existing United Kingdom law. It goes on to say that there shall be this standstill unless some "authority having power to alter that law" provides otherwise.

In United Kingdom law I have found no authority and no precedent for this form of words, which is highly unusual. After all, we pass a law in the House and often we repeal a law, and Ministers introduce Amendments or Motions for repeal, but the authority is with Parliament. In this case, we are not saying that Parliament shall change the law, but that it shall be done by some authority having this power "to alter that law". We should not leave this part of the Bill without clear assurance that there is nothing in this form of words which in any way diminishes the responsibility or authority of Parliament.

There have been two precedents for this very unhappy tragedy of South Africa's forced withdrawal from the Commonwealth. The first is the Burma Independence Act, 1947. In that Act we dealt with preferences, which are very different from statute law, and there was a provision that the Act should be amended in due course by an Order in Council. In that Act we made specific provision that Parliament would have the power to pray against such an Order in Council. In that Act, which dealt not with statute law, as does this Bill, but with preferences, Parliament's position was preserved.

The nearest analogy to this form of words is to be found in the Ireland Act, 1949. There, a form of words not unlike this is used to deal not with a problem of United Kingdom law, with which we are dealing in subsection (1), but with the law in Colonies, Protectorates or Trust Territories, such as we are dealing with in subsection (3). But in that case we have not quite this form of words, because in Section 3 (2) of the Ireland Act, 1949, the words were "until"—not "unless"—
"provision to the contrary is made by Parliament or by some other authority having power in that behalf."
That was a provision dealing, first, not with United Kingdom law as we deal with it here; not with the countermanding of Parliament's authority, as we are here; but with subordinate territories, putting a time limit on the effect of that Ireland Act, 1949, if that subordinate territory wished later to make a change.

4.30 p.m.

The effect of these words must be directed not to subsection (1) of this Bill, but to subsection (3), which deals with the subordinate territories. If I am wrong, this part of what I am saying is beyond the point, but I think that it must have that effect. If that is so, there are two problems here. There is the problem of a territory which has a Constitution, which does not require the authority of Parliament to change that part of the Constitution. If that is so, surely it is far better for us not to deal with that in the Bill, but if, by its Constitution, it has the force of authority to act without the necessity for Parliament, it is quite clearly outside the Bill.

If, on the other hand, it is a territory that requires the assent of an Act of Parliament to any decision which it takes, then I would suggest to my right hon. Friend that that ought to come back to Parliament before that territory counter-orders a standstill Order which Parliament is making. If I am right in this hazard that this Bill does not mean what it says, as drafted, these words
"unless provision to the contrary"
have got out of their context and ought not to be in subsection (1), but ought to be in subsection (3).

I suggest that both require drafting amendment before they are passed. Further, the word ought not to be "unless", but "until", as in the case of the Northern Ireland Act. I have some doubts myself whether we in Parliament, in a matter like this, should hand over our authority, with which we are empowered, completely.

When the Minister is replying, I should like him to try to explain how he envisages this Clause to work. I have a feeling that it would be much better that it should be given a calm and dispassionate period of thirteen months during which both sides, with the best will in the world, should try to make the most harmonious end to this unhappy tragedy. After all, the people who are affected by this Measure, as my right hon. Friend mentioned in the Second Reading debate, are people for whom all of us on both sides of this Committee have a great affection. They are men whose whole personal lives will be adrift until these problems are finally settled, and if they are not settled their lives will be jeopardised. They are the doctors, the dentists and all other professional men—the key men—and they are the very men who so dislike apartheid.

We want this calm and dispassionate approach to the problem, and I think that it would be very unfortunate if words such as these which I am seeking to delete proved to be one of the ways in which these professional men felt that, under the authority of Parliament, they were being treated in different parts of the country differently at different times.

For these reasons, I hope that my right hon. Friend will consider these words very carefully. This is a Bill of constitutional importance, and it appears to me that many people who read this phrase which I have read out will misunderstand its purpose. It may well be that in some parts of my interpretaion of it I myself have misunderstood it. I therefore hope that my right hon. Friend will consider carefully this form of words, and that, if he finds some of the implications which I have mentioned, will withdraw the phrase or alter it at a later stage.

I am interested that my right hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) should have had his attention drawn to this phrase in the Bill, because when I first read the Bill, as drafted, I, also, was a little uncertain about this phrase; and I did not allow it to go into the Bill until I was fully satisfied that it was necessary and proper.

My right hon. Friend has asked for an assurance that these words do not involve any derogation of the authority or status of Parliament. That was just the point about which I was concerned. I can assure my right hon. Friend that that is, in fact, so; I give him the assurance for which he asks, and I will explain why. He said that this is a somewhat unusual form of words, and that there was no precedent for them. Though he seems to have done a certain amount of research on the subject, he did not go so far as to look at the Acts passed on India, Pakistan and Ghana becoming Republics. All these Acts contained precisely this phrase, and for reasons which I will explain.

This Bill applies to all laws, Orders in Council, Regulations and other law-making instruments of the United Kingdom and all British Colonies, Protectorates and Trust Territories. This phrase is mainly concerned, as my right hon. Friend himself recognised, not with laws which have effect here in this country primarily, but with laws which have effect in overseas territories. In the case of laws, as distinct from Orders in Council Regulations, and so forth, the authority referred to in the words proposed to be left out would normally be the legislature or other law-making authority of the dependent territory concerned. In the case of Orders in Council or other instruments, the authority would be the Queen in Council, or a Governor in Council, as the case may be, or any authority empowered to make Orders and Regulations.

The words which it is proposed to leave out have been inserted to allow dependent territories to modify the provisions of the Bill in respect of laws—and this is the point I want to emphasise—which are within their own legislative competence. Considering that some of these territories have reached an advanced stage of self-government, we think that it is constitutionally right and proper to leave them this discretion.

That is the explanation which I can give to my right hon. Friend, and I hope that with that assurance he will be content not to press the Amendment.

There is one outstanding point which I should like to raise. My right hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) asked whether, assuming that this provision is appropriate at all, it is appropriately placed in subsection (1), which deals with existing law which operates in any part of the United Kingdom. Subsection (3) applies to the Colonies and Protectorates, but, of course, according to the ordinary canons of construction, if this provision is in subsection (1) we have to find some application for it within the actual ambit of that subsection; that is to say, so far as it relates to the law of the United Kingdom.

If there is no application as far as it relates to the law of the United Kingdom as distinct from the Colonies—and that is what I apprehend my right hon. Friend's answer to mean—it would seem that in subsection (1) there is no effect of these words and the phrase should not be placed in subsection (1).

I know that these matters are a little technical. Perhaps my right hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton would not wish to press our right hon. Friend to give a definitive answer to this point now from the point of view of the drafting and whether the phrase is correctly placed in that subsection. However, in the light of what has been said and of the expert advice that he is in a position to obtain, perhaps he could consider that.

Even if my right hon. Friend does not press me, I should like to give an answer now. What I said earlier was that, in the main, I do not say it is absolutely 100 per cent., this phrase will, in practice, apply only to laws of independent territories. I do not think that there is any derogation of the authority of Parliament in doing what we have done in the Bill. It is what we do in regard to the United Kingdom. When Parliament passes a law which gives a power to some other authority—possibly to the Queen in Council or to the Minister by Regulation—to bring the application of that Act in part or in whole to an end or to modify it in any way. There is no reason why we should then seek to take away from the Queen in Council, for example, the powers to amend the Act which were given by Parliament after due consideration.

This is the effect. We are leaving as far as possible intact the Act as passed by Parliament. If Parliament thought it right to leave that discretion to some other law-making authority, whether the Queen in Council or to some colonial authority, we see no particular reason why we should in this Measure alter that provision.

I feel a great deal of sympathy for what has been said by the right hon. Member for Thirk and Malton (Mr. Turton) and the right hon. and learned Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith). The answer which the Secretary of State has given was, I believe, intended to satisfy them, but I wonder whether it really satisfies them on the question of derogation from the rights of Parliament.

The Secretary of State explained that if Parliament has given power to an inferior authority to Parliament to legislate in a given case there is no reason why the same authority should not be allowed to amend its legislation at a subsequent date. But surely that is not the point. The point is that we are legislating in this Bill. It is the Bill which causes a standstill to come into operation which would be effected by the subservient authority if it were permitted to amend legislation at a later stage.

If we did what the hon. and learned Member has suggested we would not be producing a standstill. The standstill does not mean that everything has to go on for a year. It means that everything will be exactly the same as if South Africa had not left the Commonwealth. If an Act which exists today provides that an authority outside Parliament has power to amend that Act, then the standstill should leave the position as it is, namely, leave that power to amend. Otherwise, it would not be a standstill, but an amendment of the Act. It would retain the Act in force in a different form. I think that when the hon. and learned Member considers that further he will see that it is a sound argument.

4.45 p.m.

Could my right hon. Friend explain how an Order in Council could be amended without coming to Parliament?

There are all sorts of powers, as my right hon. Friend knows, given by Parliament for action to be taken by Order in Council or Regulations in regard to many matters. Whether the Order has to be laid on the Table does not affect this Bill as we have it before Parliament today. We do not say, in the Bill, that if there is the provision that such an Order must be laid on the Table of the House that is amended. All we are doing is to keep everything as it is today with such powers of amendment as exist today for a period of a year.

What my right hon. Friend is saying is that if there is an Order in Council or Statutory Instrument subject to a defined degree of Parliamentary procedure that defined degree of Parliamentary procedure will still operate no more and no less in accordance with his interpretation of the meaning of the subsection?

I hope that I am not being unduly obtuse, but surely the Bill provides a standstill, in certain instances, on laws brought into operation by authorities subservient to this House. If those subservient authorities are allowed to alter their laws after we have said that there will be a standstill it is a derogation from the powers of this House.

I do not think that we want to pursue this matter very much. I tried to make it clear. We are no longer saying that no law in South Africa shall be changed for a year, but that those laws shall not cease automatically to have effect by reason of South Africa leaving the Commonwealth. I do not know that there is one, but suppose there were a law which said that until 1st September, 1961, South African citizens should have certain rights. This Bill would not extend the application of that Act for another nine months after that. That Act would come to an end on 1st September, 1961, as already provided. This is not a standstill in the sense that we are rigidly extending everything for one year.

What we are doing is to see that laws do not automatically cease to have effect by reason of South Africa's departure from the Commonwealth on 31st May. I hope that hon. Members will consider this, but perhaps we need not discuss it further now.

The Secretary of State may be right in saying that we have pursued this matter long enough, but I am not satisfied that we are very near to the quarry. For all I know, the legal gentlemen of the Privy Council, or the legal gentlemen who have had such long experience—longer than the rest of us—of this particular subject for legislation may understand it, but with every respect to the rest of my colleagues present, I should make a heavy bet against every one of them understanding it. I do not believe that this matter has been understood. I believe it to be the duty of Ministers to make sure that it is understood before they ask us to leave it.

No doubt my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is right about his precedents, but, again with respect to the draftsmen, for all I know to the contrary, this form of words:
"unless provision to the contrary is made by an authority having power to alter that law,"—
that is to say, a provision in the passive and a negative provision—may be inevitable, but ordinary hon. Members should always be suspicious of provisos in that sort of form. We have been given ample reason for supposing that competent lawyers may find the proviso unintelligible. It seems that from the point of view of the Committee in general this is an unintelligible proviso. I think that my right hon. Friend ought to give us some assurance that this will be fully considered. I think, quite honestly, that we ought to have present on the Report stage a Law Officer whom we can cross-examine on this point.

I do not wish to take up the time of the Committee on this, but, like the hon. Member for Carlton (Sir K. Pickthorn), I now find the matter much more incomprehensible than I had judged it to be before the right hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) moved his Amendment.

The Visiting Forces (British Commonwealth) Act, 1933, is full of provisions for Her Majesty, by Order in Council, doing a wide variety of things, such as giving exemptions from impositions under the Naval Discipline Act and the Army Act, and making arrangements for the relationships of visiting forces to the civil power and for the relationship of the Act to the Colonies. Is it possible, under the provisions of this Bill, for changes to be made in the operation of that Act—which is relevant to our discussions—without coming before the House of Commons? I would like an assurance about that.

Another point mentioned by the Secretary of State puzzled me. He said that if enactments relating to Britain and South Africa expired during the next twelve months, their date of expiry would not be affected by the Bill. Reading the Bill in one way, that seems to be so, but reading it in another way, it seems that all existing law is extended for one year from 31st May, 1961. We need legal clarification on that point.

May I add to the general confusion by asking the Secretary of State how his explanation of this sentence in subsection (1) fits in with the exceptions listed in subsection (3)? I understand that dependent territories have provisions in their own laws affecting their relationships with South Africa, and that it is within their competence to amend those provisions. The purpose of this sentence in subsection (1), to which attention has been drawn, is to continue to reserve to them that competence, but would not that be invalidated by subsection (3), which appears arbitrarily to apply to these territories the continuation of the existing relationships between them and South Africa?

The Secretary of State may say that subsection (1) merely continues the status quo, namely, the power of these territories, if that power already exists, to amend their own relationships with South Africa. If that is so, why is subsection (3) in the Bill? I hope that my obscurity is no worse than anyone else's, but it would help if he could throw some light on the matter.

Mr. Sandys